SUEZ survey reveals lack of environmental policy across UK businesses

A partnership between SUEZ and the British Chambers of Commerce has seen research being published today (20 September) that reveals a lack of environmental policy across UK businesses.

Through conducting a survey amongst British corporations, the partnership found that there is a ‘significant disconnect’ between the awareness of the importance of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) approach within these businesses and the amount of these policies that have actually been put into place.

Environmental policyThe survey revealed that 69 per cent of responding businesses, out of over 1,000 studied, believe that environmental sustainability mostly refers to cutting carbon emissions, whilst 82 per cent held the view that it largely pertains to the recycling and reuse of materials. In spite of these beliefs, only 36 per cent of the companies could confirm that they had enacted environmental sustainability policy, with 15 per cent stating that they had implemented social value policy, dropping to 9 per cent for microbusinesses. 40 per cent of responding businesses added that implementing social value policy is not currently considered a priority at present, corresponding with the 23 per cent who believe there is a lack of demand from stakeholders to roll out such legislation.

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, commented: “With just two months until the UK hosts COP26 the time is ripe for a sea-change in approach to make environmental and social value policies a core part of UK business strategy. 
“Businesses are looking to Government for a supportive regulatory framework that will help accelerate a green recovery and promote business growth that not only benefits our economy and jobs, but that also enriches local communities and protects the environment.
“There is a clear need for top-down support to help unite firms across the supply chain, given the disconnect between business awareness of the value from both environmental and social value policies, and the overwhelming lack of any such policies being in place. There is no long-term future for business if short-term profit is chased at the expense of long-term environmental and social value policy planning. 
“The aims of COP26 will only be achieved if business is brought on board and the perceived administrative and financial burdens from incorporating sustainability policies are removed. Uniting business is essential if we are collectively to meet the objectives of this November’s global climate conference– to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.” 
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said: “This research shines a light on the mismatch between the clear understanding among UK businesses of what benefits can flow from environmental and social value policies and the reality of how many actually have these in place.

“Given the huge upheavals they have endured over the past 18 months it is perhaps understandable that these have not been a priority. Yet the consequences firms will face if they fail to adapt for the future cannot be ignored. 

“That’s why the Chamber Network has been supporting its members to find more environmentally sustainable ways of doing business and identifying opportunities to boost their social value impact.

“But government also needs to help business help themselves, especially those smaller firms who remain understandably concerned about perceived extra costs and red tape if they want to change. This is not only a matter of a greener future for business – it’s about ensuring a brighter future for everyone.”